Changes to county’s snow services save South Yorkshire council £1m

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A SHAKE-UP of the way snow is cleared from winter roads has been hailed a success.

A review carried out by Derbyshire County Council found 85 per cent of town and parish councils in the county believed there had been either an improvement in snow clearance, or performance had stayed the same, since a number of changes to the service were introduced last year.

Changes included implementing a Snow Warden scheme where volunteers cleared pavements and paths in their area, and the uploading of detailed information on the county council’s website on advice on staying safe and well in winter, and regular updates about the latest weather, road conditions and disruption to council services.

Bosses also paid a minimum of £200 to contractors and farmers who signed up to help clear roads. The number of those who expressed an interest increased to 120 from 35 as a result.

The measures saved the council £1 million compared with the cost of gritting and snow clearance from the previous year. The county council spent £3.5m in 2011/2012 and £4.5m in 2010/2011.

Coun Simon Spencer, Derbyshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “During bad and prolonged winter weather, it was extremely difficult to provide an effective gritting service under the old system of gritting routes 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“That’s why we split our gritting routes into two categories and introduced a third to make gritting our roads easier to manage by making better use of staff and equipment to grit and clear snow. Although the weather wasn’t as extreme as the previous winter, we still faced some very difficult conditions.”